Saturday, May 29, 2010

Natural or Synthetic?

With the endless number of options available these days, choosing a floor covering can be a daunting exercise. One of the main decisions most people make is deciding on a natural or synthetic material. Both have their pros and cons and it is a matter of analyzing your needs, lifestyle, aesthetic preferences and even your ethical attitudes towards environmental issues, in order to make a decision.

Natural Floors

For looks and appeal, it can often be hard to beat Mother Nature. Hardwood floors, for example, have a beauty and feel of quality that even the best-designed laminates struggle to match. They are also one of the few products which actually improve with age and if well-maintained, will last for a lifetime. In fact, solid wood floors instantly add to the value of a property and provide a great advantage when marketing and selling property. Natural wood also comes in a ready range of beautiful colors that are naturally soothing and pleasing to the eye, matching easily to many décor schemes.

Similarly, carpets made from natural fibers have a warmth and luxury that is not easily matched by synthetic fibers such as nylon and polyester. Like hardwood, wool carpets age well, retaining vibrancy and resilience over time compared to nylon fibers which may matt or become crushed, i.e. they look good for longer. They are also more static-resistant than synthetic fibers and of very low flammability.

The other reason to choose natural materials is for their eco-friendly and healthy properties. Provided that they are harvested from sustainable resources, they do not harm the health of our planet unlike synthetic products which are usually the result of the petroleum-based industry with its associated problems of pollution, energy consumption and toxicity. Natural floors also create a living environment that is healthier for our bodies. Synthetic carpets, for example, are made from petrochemical products which can release toxins into the atmosphere, taking years to dissipate. Synthetic products will also often have other components, such as chemical bonding agents, which may be carcinogenic and add further threats to our health. In addition, natural products can often have a less allergenic effect.

The one thing you often cannot expect from natural floors – particularly wooden floors - is uniformity of appearance or exact selection of color, so if this is an important issue then a synthetic choice might be better. However, many people actually delight in the flaws and inconsistencies inherent in natural products, feeling that this gives them more “character”. Natural products are also susceptible to damage due to the properties and vulnerabilities of their materials – for example, hardwood floors can warp, discolor or crack if they are exposed for prolonged periods to extremes of temperature, light or moisture (wet or dry). They can also be prone to gouges and scratches, despite the finishing. Similarly, natural wool carpets may be prone to shrinkage and damage from “scrubbing” or hard scoring.

Synthetic Floors

The main advantage of synthetic floors is usually the lower cost, although nowadays, advanced design and improved manufacturing technology means that they often match natural products in the other departments too, such as durability and comfort. Laminates, for example, are increasingly popular as a cheaper alternative to solid wood or ceramic tile floors – they can provide the appearance of much more expensive flooring for just a fraction of the price. Furthermore, vinyl and laminates are incredibly durable and easy to maintain. Synthetic floors tend to be more stain-resistant and water-resistant and can be treated with soil guards and other repellent coverings. Synthetic flooring is also popular for areas of high traffic as not only do they cope well with the higher wear and tear but they are also cheaper to replace, an exercise that will inevitably occur more often in such areas.

Aside from affordability, the other great advantage of synthetic floors is their unlimited variety in terms of styles and colors – and also in providing a consistency of appearance, which may not always be available with natural flooring options. But most of all, synthetic floors offer greater versatility to the homeowner and interior designer: for example, many have desired the look and feel of hardwood floors in the bathroom and kitchen but the high moisture levels in these areas have often meant that this was hard to achieve – now with laminate flooring which has greater moisture resistance, the same look can be achieved without any risk. Another example is the wish to recreate the look of a stone or ceramic tile floor – which can be done with good quality vinyl; this means that the flooring remains warm to touch and you will not need to suffer cold feet for the sake of aesthetics!

This article was taken directly from Floor Ideas (www.floorideas.co.uk). Also, visit my websites at www.americarpetfloors.com and www.stylishrugs.com for all your flooring needs.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Where to Use Carpet Tiles

If you're looking for a fantastic alternative to traditional carpets, then think about using carpet tiles. These can give the same look as traditional broadloom carpets but have some significant advantages particularly if you are considering flooring for a room with high family activity and the presence of children and/or pets or even areas of high daily wear and tear, such as in the commercial sector. They can even add a unique element to your interior design scheme, which may not be achievable with conventional wall-to-wall carpeting.

What are Carpet Tiles?
Carpet tiles are made up of the same materials as normally-bonded carpet but come in 'squares', usually in a set size, and of varying thickness. They may not have as dense a pile as normal rolled carpet but this does not affect their function. They come in an endless variety of patterns and colors which makes them a delight to work with when decorating with a specific color scheme in mind.

Where can I use Carpet Tiles?
Carpet tiles are generally suitable for any room in the house although it may be a good idea to avoid using them in basement areas due to a potential to attract mildew. They can be installed over any surface that is clean and dry.

What are their Advantages?
The great advantage of carpet tiles is when it comes to repair, as just the damaged areas can be replaced through the exchange of a few select new tiles for old, worn or damaged ones. Remember to buy a few replacement tiles when initially installing the tiles as this way you can get an exact match in color and design when you come to replace any damaged areas. You can even swap tiles around in a room to even out the wear, thus, the tiles under furniture can be exchanged for the ones by the doorway.

Another advantage of carpet tiles is the easy access they provide to under-floor wiring and even plumbing. Furthermore, they are very hard-wearing and easy to clean, making them especially suitable for children's play areas and rooms. Their bright colors and variety of styles and patterns appeal to children and make designing the children's floor schemes an easy task.

How about Installation?
One of the great attractions of carpet tiles is their ease of installation which makes them a favorite choice with DIY enthusiasts. Not only do you not have to worry about expensive installation costs but the normally awkward and messy job of carpet installation is transformed into a simple and quick process: fewer special tools are required and the installation process takes less time overall. The usual tools involved are double-sided carpet tape, a sharp Stanley knife with a heavy duty blade, a pencil or chalk marker and some form of straight edge, together with a cutting board and a tape measure. Most carpet tiles will either be dry-backed, which will require a special adhesive, or have a self-sticking backing. As they have this special backing, the usual carpet underlay will not be needed, however, it is very important to ensure that the floor underneath is clean and dry. Also, make sure that the underfloor is level as carpet tiles are designed to lay flat.

How do I Take Care of Carpet Tiles?
No special maintenance is required, just a regular vacuum and quick attention to any spills and stains. Remove as much excess solids or liquids by scraping or sponging and then rinse with water and sponge clean. In some cases, you can actually lift the stained tiles and rinse them under the tap. If you do decide to use some form of detergent, remember to rinse it off thoroughly as any traces left will attract grime and dirt, causing greater staining in the future.

With its low cost, easy installation and myriad of practical advantages, as well as its decorative flexibility, it's easy to see why carpet tiles are becoming increasingly popular as a choice of flooring.

This article was taken directly from Floor Ideas (www.floorideas.co.uk). Also, visit my websites at www.americarpetfloors.com and www.stylishrugs.com for all your flooring needs.

Americarpet sells these types of commercial carpets and residential carpets among many others.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Colors for Commercial Flooring

As the single largest element of the interior décor, flooring plays a vital role in the creation of the right environment for a commercial outlet, whether it is an office, hotel, department store, supermarket or restaurant. In fact, in this intensely competitive day and age, customers will often choose a place over another simply for the ambiance and aesthetic appeal and not necessarily the quality of the product or even service – especially for establishments in the hospitality industry. Even in the office workplace, recent surveys have found that the right lighting, colors and layout of furnishings can greatly boost creativity and productivity in employees. Thus, to project the right professional image – and to create the best working environment – it is worth investing in quality commercial flooring. There is a vast amount of choice these days, from carpet to vinyl, hardwood to laminate, marble to tile, with types and styles to suit every budget. It is also very important to put some effort into the interior decorating, particularly in the choice of colors. This may be limited depending on your choice of flooring type (e.g. marble or hardwood) but with many options (e.g. carpet, vinyl) the choice can be endless.

Old Fashioned
Traditionally, offices in particular were always decorated in muted hues of grey and taupe as these were thought to be sophisticated and least likely to be offensive. However, it’s now believed that décor like this which lacks color can be very numbing, leading to a loss in employee productivity – and it certainly isn’t likely to attract customers into a café or shop! In fact, companies which had dimly lit, grey cubicles were finding it increasingly difficult to attract creative talent. So now there is a shift away from neutral shades towards more color, which can be very stimulating to the brain, improving moods and effectiveness. But choose wisely. The wrong bright color can be just as bad as a boring neutral shade. In general steer well clear of bright, garish colors and colors that do not occur in nature – such as fluorescent orange, pink or green – these send jarring signals to the brain, almost like the ear picking up on painful, loud noises. While it’s important to have a reasonable amount of color, it should not be too strong and saturated – try to pick shades which are soothing to the eyes. Some good choices are:

BLUE – the most popular color, according to surveys of employees, blue has a very calming effect on the brain and creates a soothing environment, thus helping to reduce stress. Probably one reason it is often used in day spas. Popular shades are those which resemble the sea or sky – a grey blue can be too chilling and depressing. Note, also, that the signals it sends to the brain are the least stimulating and so it may not be the best choice for a creative environment, such as an advertising agency (although this depends partly on the shade of blue).

GREEN – this is another soothing color, inspiring relaxation, particularly if it emulates shades found in nature, such as grass green or spring green. The wrong shade again, though, can also be depressing (think of hospitals!).

ORANGE – this is one color which can have hugely different effects depending on the shade and tones used. A muted, earthy orange can create a very warm, welcoming environment and can help people to relax and be more creative. However, get the shade slightly wrong so that it is too loud and strong and it can have a very negative effect, raising tension levels and even causing headaches. It is a known fact that fast-food outlets often use orange interiors to encourage people to eat quickly and leave.

RED – red was also quite a popular choice in surveys as it is a very stimulating color, sending the most signals to the brain. However, for this reason, it can be very distracting and so should be used sparingly, as accent colors in small areas. Similarly with yellow and magenta.

PINK – this is probably one colour to avoid, less you are a baby boutique (and then it’s important to choose the right shade) as it has been found to have a numbing effect on the brain and in fact, a specific shade of pink has been known to be used in police cells and institutions to help calm inmates who are manic or delirious. In general, people seem most comfortable with pastel shades and colours found in nature, therefore even if you pick a strong colour (e.g. red), opt for tones and hues that are slightly more muted or more “natural”. And remember, whatever colour you choose, it is important to ensure regular cleaning of your commercial flooring, to maintain a professional image.

This article was taken directly from Floor Ideas (www.floorideas.co.uk). Also, visit my websites at www.americarpetfloors.com and www.stylishrugs.com for all your flooring needs.

Americarpet sells these types of commercial carpets among many others.